Dear Cassandra… I find that throwing all the beads I get at a show
into a colander and washing them gives me piece of mind, and also, I
find out immediately about any fugitive dyes. I throw some dish soap
in, swish it around, rinse, and dry with a towel. I keep a bound book
in which I write prices and dealers and descriptions of the beads
from each show, which I do first.
A store like Joann’s or Beverly’s, will have several size of
translucent, softer-plastic (hard plastic can chip some beads)
divided trays with attached lids. (Mine just fit lengthwise in a
metal cabinet I found. Often you can find them on sale, which is when
to buy them in bulk, so your collection will be homogeneous. You can
sort them by size, or shape, but I found that in the long run, having
a box for analogous colors, or your dominant stone, is the easiest
for designing, and for checking before shows. Later, with a new
project, I can go through and select a certain size bead in all
genres and while I’m doing that design, use just that box, remarked,
or with estimated averages. I leave them on the strand as long as
possible, because it’s easier to handle and choose from the strand.
I use a bar-bell tag to mark the strand either the wholesale or the
retail price (chose one and stick to it forever).
When the strands end up loose, it’s handy to use small price labels
on the back of each partition, (scotch taped over so they’ll never
You’ll end up getting some mixed in with others (remember when you
cleaned up in a hurry?), so every 6 months, you can set them all out
on a table with lids open and resort them in their proper places.
This will not only refresh your memory of what you have, but
inevitably lead to new designs, so it’s not the chore it may sound
One fiscal trick: Once I get home with new purchases, I try to make
enough pieces of jewelry in the next 24 to 48 hours to cover the cost
of the beads that I brought into the house. This one practice has
made everything else I make be pure profit, and has totally relieved
me of the guilt of spending money on beads. My only problem now is
finding the room for all the beads I have. And organizing everything
so that all beads are easily found when an inspiration strikes!
Hope this 35 years of collecting beads info is helpful for you.
Mary Jane St. Amand